Tag Archives: Eretmochelys imbricata

11 Sea Turtles Released Back Into The Sea

On the 29th of June (2017) the AFCD (Agriculture Fisheries & Conservation Department) released 10 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and one hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the southern waters of Hong Kong.

The turtles were among the 35 green turtles and one hawksbill turtle seized from a fish raft in Sok Kwu Wan Fish Culture Zone (Lamma Island) in September 2016.

The 10 green turtles and the hawksbill turtle weighed from 11.5 kilograms to 61 kg and measured about 45 centimetres to 82cm in carapace length. All of them were assessed by veterinarians of OPHK as being in good condition and ready to be returned to the sea. The other green turtles were already released in November 2016.

A green sea turtle released into the sea by AFCD staff

Before the turtles were released to the sea, they were tagged with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to the carapaces of the turtles. By tracking the movement and feeding grounds of green turtles in the sea, the AFCD can collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share its findings with other conservation authorities for the better conservation of sea turtles. Satellite tracking revealed that the some of the turtles released in November 2016 headed south to the South China Sea via different routes, reaching Wanshan Archipelago, Dongsha, Nansha and Xisha Islands, Hainan Island and as far as Malaysia.

The green turtle and the hawksbill turtle are globally endangered and critically endangered species respectively. In Hong Kong, all sea turtle species are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance . Of the five sea turtle species found in Hong Kong waters, the hawksbill turtle is relatively rare and the green turtle is to date the only species known to nest locally.

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Turtles Returned to the Sea

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has released three green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), including 2 juveniles and 1 adult, and 1 juvenile hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the southeastern waters of Hong Kong today.

The juvenile green turtles and the hawksbill turtle were found by members of the public and AFCD staff on Clear Water Bay Second Beach and Campers’ Beach in Sai Kung and Yan Chau Tong between October 2012 and May this year.

After an initial check-up by the AFCD, the turtles were taken to Ocean Park for a veterinary assessment and care.

The adult green turtle, which has been taken care by Ocean Park since 2002, returns to the sea. (Image by AFCD)
The adult green turtle, which has been taken care by Ocean Park since 2002, returns to the sea. (Image by AFCD)

The adult green turtle was kept by Ocean Park since 2002. It was among the hatchlings artificially incubated from a batch of eggs collected in Sham Wan on Lamma Island in 2001. Because it had a slight deformity on its shell, it was looked after by Ocean Park.

The juvenile turtles ranged from 4.05 to 12.85 kg in weight and their shells were from 35 to 47cm in length, while the adult turtle weighed 76.5 kg and its shell was 79cm. All of them were in good condition, indicating that they were ready to be returned to the sea.

Before returning them to the sea, the AFCD tagged each turtle with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification, and attached a satellite transmitter to their backs. By tracing their oceanic movements and locating their feeding grounds, the AFCD can collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share findings with various conservation authorities such as tha Gangkou Sea Turtle National Nature Reserve in Huidong (Guandong Province).

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department released green turtles and hawksbill turtle in the southeastern waters of Hong Kong today (June 23). Before the turtles are released back into the wild, satellite transmitters are attached to their back to collect information on their movements. (Image by AFCD)
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department released green turtles and hawksbill turtle in the southeastern waters of Hong Kong today (June 23). Before the turtles are released back into the wild, satellite transmitters are attached to their back to collect information on their movements. (Image by AFCD)

Of the five sea turtle species found in Hong Kong waters, the hawksbill turtle is relatively rare and the green turtle is to date the only species known to nest locally.